It’s that moment after stepping out of the consultation room and realising that someone who was (still is) extremely precious, is no longer beside you. That missing presence creates a cavernous hole and the world around you seems different and small because compared to that companion, it is.
I’ve shared my thought on pet loss in another post, not sure if other people felt the sameof not: Sometimes, It’s Just Hard to Let Go
I have experienced pet loss recently, almost a year ago. It sounds like ages but it feels like it happened only a week ago. I thought I would put up some of my personal tips for coping with pet bereavement because I think it is important to a lot of people.
- Don’t feel guilty. I still do but I keep telling myself not to. This particularly applies to owners who have had to make the decision, like me, to euthanize their pet. It is a difficult decision because afterwards it leaves you wondering whether you could have done more, was it the right choice at the right time? If you are with a reliable veterinary practice, the staff would not suggest euthanasia if they didn’t think anything could have been done to seriously improve the lifestyle of your pet. So, most of the time, it is the right decision.
- Distraction. Again, this is easier said than done considering you have had a huge presence removed from your life in a matter of seconds, but go outside and get some fresh air. Maybe go for a walk, walk round the block or your garden or go to the cinema with someone close to you in your family who will understand what you’re going through so they won’t expect you to be yourself, exactly, on this occasion. I ended up going to see Bridget Jones’s Baby at the cinema with my mum, hoping that a bit of comedy would lift my spirits up.
- Eat. This sounds silly but sometimes as a side effect of grief some people tend to almost forget about food. I know, the thought of it sounds impossible- how could you ever forget food!? I kind of did. WEll,not completely forget, but you do loose track of time and before I knew it, it was 5pm and I realised that I hadn’t eaten all day. So keep eating and keep hydrated also, especially if have cried quite a bit.
- Closure. This may not be for everyone but I found it helpful. It’s difficult walking into your home and seeing that empty pet bed. What I did, was print off photos of pet and put them in an album because, although technology is the new photo album, there’s just something about having physical, hard copies in front of you to flick through. I just transferred the photos from my phone and onto a memory stick for the local photo shop to print off. Some people may chose to get rid of the empty bed and keep the collar. I couldn’t let go of my cat’s beds or collar so its personal preference.
- If you decide to get another pet. I got another black and white cat, similar to mine, and naively assumed it would also be similar in character. If you are going to get a ‘replacement’ pet, remember that it will never replace your old companion. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can leave some people feeling a bit let down if they are hoping for exactly the same lifetime experience with their new companion as they had with their old. Animals are like people: sentient and have different, unique personalities shaped by their own instinct and different upbringings.